Bargaining, is a culture in itself in Vietnam. It is an indispensable part of trade exchange here. In western countries people go to the store or supermarket, in which the items are sourced from other foreign countries, depending on the item. Where as in Vietnam most of the business comes from small business families, especially in local markets. 100% of household businesses are household traders.
With such a broad market of opportunity, there is inconsistency in prices among households. Depending on how you look at it, its either a hinder or an opportunity for those traveling in Vietnam.
Bargaining, is a culture in itself in Vietnam. It is an indispensable part of trade exchange here. In western countries people go to the store or supermarket, in which the items are sourced from other foreign countries, depending on the item. Where as in Vietnam most of the business comes from small business families, especially in local markets. 100% of household businesses are household traders. With such a broad market of opportunity, there is inconsistency in prices among households. Depending on how you look at it, its either a hinder or an opportunity for those traveling in Vietnam.
In some countries talking about finances is a delicate matter, perhaps by some considered impolitic. It is quite the contrary in Vietnam. The topic of money is talked about openly and daily. Something that you may find so taboo in a western country is in abundance here. You bargain according to the trade on each day. Vietnam doesn’t stand alone on this topic, your bargaining skills will come in handy, throughout Southeast Asia, bargaining is an everyday occurrence.
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If they are not careful, even the Vietnamese can still pay higher prices then usual. Initially for travelers, prices will be offered at rates anywhere from 1.5 to four times higher than the actual price. In the past, there have been cases where foreigners had to buy goods well over their face value prices. Though, in recent years, foreign tourists to Vietnam have been prepared for shopping knowledge. Even then, you will still pay 1.5 times higher than the locals.
How to bargain
When you find an item you would like to buy, ask first, for the price because often the price will not be listed. Upon hearing the first price, counter their offer with half the price being stated. Then, depending on the attitude of the seller, you will gradually increase the price you want to pay. Do this subtly and with a smile on your face. You should know roughly how much you want to pay for this item. If you pay just a little higher or anything below the first said price. You have been successful. Try to limit yourself to a price that is reasonable and is lower than the first given price from the salesperson. If people still insist that your price is to low. DO NOT be afraid to walk away. This is one of the most helpful tips. Walk away slowly because if the seller really needs to sell, they will always call you back.
OK! So here’s a possible scenario.
You want to buy a pair of the elephant shorts that are all the rage for comfort and style in Vietnam. You find a vendor that you like. The initial price you hear is 200.000VND. Typically, the average price of shorts (depending on the material and style) is around 80.000VND-150.000VND. Your first offer should be half of the salespersons, so 100.000VND or you could even try for 90.000VND. Now pay attention to the attitude of the seller; If they look surprised and a little angry, then your offer is not a fair price to them. Your next price will be 10.000VND to 20.000VND higher than your first offered price. Remember only to increase twice, or you will end up paying to much for this item. If in the case, they have already discounted the price for you keep the price for you then you are already paying less than other people and you should only try and decrease the price once.
After a trade exchange, if the seller still has not agreed to sell, walk away slowly, so they have a chance to call you back. If you turn away and the salesperson does not call you back, they’re indicating that your price is too low and they can’t afford to sell it for that price. If you really liked the item, go back later on and raise the price one more time or agree to the first price you heard.
Attitude to keep in mind when bargaining.
When bargaining, consider the seller as your friend. Make use of your Vietnamese that you have learned while traveling around. Another very important rule is to keep a smile on your face, almost talk as if you are flirting with this person. In Vietnam, the trade is important, but the Vietnamese attach importance to their attitude when communicating with each other more. This is very important when shopping or traveling not just in Vietnam, but Southeast Asia in general.
If you build a good enough rapport with the seller, they may even invite you back to their home to eat and get to know their family and friends. What a fun way to travel.
How Bargaining Affects the Cultural Behavior of the Vietnamese
Bargaining is a vital part of every day life in the Vietnamese culture. For Vietnamese people, bargaining is a sign of the usual trade between first-time buyers, but if you have made a purchase previously, people will remember you. So, the next time you will make a purchase, you will be able to buy goods at an average price or maybe even lower than the average price of the product. Of course, this is true only for small business deals, but it still represents the Vietnamese community.
Why with visitors, should you always bargain? Because as I said above, the Vietnamese economy is about mini-capitalism. So, for visitors-the casual shoppers, the sellers usually pay higher prices for an item to make more money. A pair of pants sold to Vietnamese people for 120,000VND is equal to the price of imported pants for tourists for 200.000VND. This is the consequence of the free market between small traders.